US Report: Compaq to move Tandem Himalaya servers to Alpha

Making the most of its recent acquisitions, Compaq plans to start using Digital's Alpha chips in its Tandem Himalaya S-series of servers as early as 2001, company officials confirmed today.

The Himalaya servers currently use MIPS chips from Silicon Graphics Inc. "SGI has been changing its strategy for the MIPS chips and that was making us nervous," said Pauline Nist, vice president of the products and technology group at Compaq's Tandem division in California.

Shortly after acquiring Tandem last year, Compaq voiced plans to switch the Himalayas from MIPS to Intel's 64-bit Merced platform. But the subsequent acquisition of Digital gave Compaq another choice - Alpha. Industry analysts said the choice is a good one. "It's certainly a statement that Merced is not perceived as stable enough for Tandem to make the migration from MIPS to Merced," said Jerry Sheridan, an analyst at industry analyst Dataquest. "At least we know Alpha works," added Jim Johnson, an analyst at The Standish Group. "All the mission-critical systems now aren't on Intel. That should say something."

Compaq officials said they plan to integrate the Tandem servers with the next major rev of Alpha, the EV7, which is due in 2000. Alpha-equipped servers should be available by 2001 or 2002, they said. There will be a couple of MIPS upgrades between now and then, most likely in 1999 and 2000.

Customers will be able to upgrade their servers to Alpha via a fairly simple chip switch and be able to move object code from their existing systems to the new systems, officials said. The Himalaya K-series will not be upgraded to Alpha as it is being phased out, officials said.